With the Civil War over and tensions still high between the south and the north; the country saw a rise in violence against African Americans. Those in the south still didn’t believe blacks rated the same as them. In this paper I will discuss the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the activities the Klan participated in, and the eventual fall of the Klan.
After the Civil war ended many southerners still had the belief that the Blacks were not equal and should not be put in the same class or jobs as white men and women. With tensions rising violence began to break out and Blacks were the main target as well as anyone that was assisting the Black community. On December 24th, 1865 six confederate veterans got together and formed the first Klan. To historians the Klan was formed as a post Civil war insurgent rise that was fighting against the dramatically changing social situation our country was facing. The Klan used public violence against blacks as intimidation; attempting to keep them out of jobs and off the land that whites believed they did not and should not own. To the Klan Blacks were a inferior race and should stay that way; working for whites as a labor force. As the years went by the Klan attempted to create a hierarchy with the various chapters in the south, however the plan failed and the various chapters went on to terrorize their areas and settle feuds that were boiling.
During the time of the Klan, the members acted in many differing activities. The Klan choose to ride at night and use the darkness as their ally as they terrorized the black community. When they would ride at night they often dawned white masks to mask their identity from the community, mainly for the simply reason that the members of the Klan were often high ranking officials of the military or of the community. When the Klan would ride they often targeted black political leaders as well as heads of the families, along with the leaders of the churches, and community groups because these men and women were a icon in the community. The Klan was also against blacks voting, in a matter of weeks that Klan had killed or wounded over two-thousand black voters in Louisiana before the Presidential election of 1868.
By 1868, just 2 years after the creation of the Klan its activities began to fade and die down. In 1870 the government stated that the Klan was an organized terrorist group and began to indict members of the Klan. A reporter in Georgia wrote in January 1870, “A true statement of the case is not that the Ku Klux are an organized band of licensed criminals, but that men who commit crimes call themselves Ku Klux.” (1) As the Klan decreased its unpopularity also shot down, in 1870 the Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and discriminated against in the rest of the south. In 1872 the Klan was completely disbanded and didn’t come back till 1915.
In conclusion, the Klan was a group of men and some women that still held the beliefs that the black community was underneath the whites. They did not see them as equals and did not agree with what the north was trying to do after the Civil war. In the beginning the Klan was strong and had nearly 550,000 members that terrorized the south, but the lack of leadership and differing views ultimately led to their demise and eventual destruction of the Klan.